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The Depressed Gal’s Guide to Good Mornings

The Depressed Gal’s Guide to Good Mornings

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As I return to my daily routine after a fall-break beach vacation,  which I took with my boys last week, I am feeling a bit out of sorts.

While it certainly could be the lack of exercise (or withdrawals from my daily,  beach-side Pina Colada regimen), my instincts tell me otherwise.

The sort of brain fog, anxiety and irritability I have been dealing with for the past few days has made something crystal clear for me- the morning rituals I have been practicing for the past three years of my life are of great value to my psyche .

While I had always suspected this, taking a week-long break from these rituals has blatantly confirmed my suspicions.  As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression since adolescence, let me just tell you….a healthy morning routine has been life-changing (too bad it took me over 30 years to discover this).

So today, I feel compelled to share with you some of the rituals I have found most effective for managing my depression and anxiety. (In a future article, I will address the supplementation/medical aspect of my mental health).

Mental health is not self-indulgent

So before you busy, self-less mamas out there start to dismiss this post, questioning how the hell you could ever find the time to add one more thing to your “to-do” list, just hear me out- anything that facilitates your well-being and enhances your mental health is worth trying.

I know damn well,  many outsiders perceive me as self-indulgent, and I am ok with that. The truth is that my depression, coupled with the pressures of motherhood, has forced me into a survival mode of sorts.

A few years before giving birth to my first son, I was actually hospitalized for a full-blown nervous breakdown. Long story short, I hit an ultimate low after my anxiety became too much to bear. The whole ordeal left me feeling “broken” and weak.

While deep-down I had always dreamed of being a mother, I feared I did not have the mental capacity to successfully parent a child. Fast forward a few years, and I am in utter shock as a nurse announces to me that I am pregnant (what I suspected were gallstones was actually a fetus…my bad!).

Considering the fact that I was happily married and financially stable, one would assume this to be a celebratory occasion, but the trauma of my past made me spiral into a pit of self-doubt and fear- this poor child deserves a mother who isn’t weak or broken like me.

That is when I vowed to myself I would do everything in my power to ensure that my baby is raised in a healthy, happy environment. If others perceived me as selfish or a bad mother, I really didn’t give a sh*t. My son was not going to have a miserable, suicidal nutcase for a mom.

As soon as my first son was born, I had enforced my first semblance of a morning routine and it has continued to evolve ever since.

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1. Listen to Motivational Content While Getting Ready

If I could recommend just one morning ritual to anyone getting started, I would recommend listening to motivational podcasts or videos in the mornings (either while getting ready or commuting to work). No news, no social media- just positivity.

Back in the day (when I was a new-mother), I established a ritual of listening to inspirational videos while putting on my make-up in the morning. As the babes got older (and didn’t take their morning naps), this process could get a little frustrating. Nonetheless, I still practice this ritual today. The mind, if left to neutrality, will always find reasons to complain, worry or procrastinate. Listening to uplifting material in the morning is a great way to get out ahead of your low-vibe thoughts and set a better tone for the day. As for the make-up?  Well, that was simply a means of maintaining  my groomed,  pre-motherhood self.

2. Get Your Sweat On

I realize that working out in the mornings is a luxury many cannot afford (when I worked for someone else, I had a really hard time with this), but you would be surprised at what an effective mood booster this can be (especially if you can go outside for some added oxygen and nature therapy).

In the early days of motherhood, this was my saving grace, ya’ll. The gym was basically the only time I got to myself (find a gym with free child-care!). Not only is it nice to get your workout checked off the “to-do” list, but exercise reduces my anxiety and leaves me feeling hopeful and empowered. As my children are now in school programs and I am no longer confined to the free childcare at the gym, I have especially enjoyed hiking and running out in nature. Being out in the wild gives me an instant sense of connection to the divine- washing away my worries and doubts.

3. Light and Gratitude Upon Waking

In order to make my mornings less rushed and more chill, I wake up waaay before the sun(and before my little rascals). Because I am not much of an early riser naturally, I have learned how to trick myself a bit.

First of all, I get my butt to bed as soon as I get the kids down at night. Then, I  put my phone on air-plane mode (for better sleep, less EMF waves going thru my brain and no pesky interruptions). Once my alarm goes off in the morning, I reach over to my bedside table and immediately turn on the lamp (and hit snooze on my alarm). During the ten minutes of snooze, I let my body acclimate to the light of my lamp. Once my pineal gland is stimulated and my mind is somewhat coherent, I begin to think about all of the things I am grateful for: my family, clean water, a roof over my head, etc. While I am not much of an early riser, waking up an hour earlier has decreased my morning stress levels and allowed me time for the next practice on my list…

4. Active Meditation Followed by Prayer

In the domain of self-help and spirituality, it may seem as though  “meditation” is nothing more than  an over-used buzzword,  but it has truly been a game-changer for me. In fact, I can proudly declare that  I have powered through three years of self-disciplined meditation to have finally reached the point where I now look forward to this daily practice of solitude, reflection and divine connection.

For those of you still not convinced by all of my woo-woo talk, fMRIs and EEGs are now confirming the ways in which meditation alters brain matter. For more detailed accounts, you can read this article. 

I think the key to solidifying this practice into your daily routine is finding the particular style of meditation that works for you. Whether it be guided meditation, silent reflection, Transcendental Meditation, body scan meditation or active meditation through certain Yogic traditions, just realize the first year of your meditation journey will be full of trial-and error. Personally, my favorite modality has been Kundalini Yoga meditations.

In Kundalini Yoga meditation, you sing a mantra (in the ancient language of Gurmukhi) while also having to control your breathing (this breathing practice is known as Pranayam).  To keep my practice “doable” and sustainable , I rarely exceed 20 minutes.  Thanks to the controlled breathing and the focus required for reciting the mantras in a foreign (nonsensical to me) language, I can get in the zone pretty easily.

Regardless of the meditative style you would like to explore, Youtube is a great resource for beginners. Of course there are also apps as well, but since I am a pretty devoted Kundalini, I do just fine with Youtube and the occasional studio class.

my morning routine

Although years of meditation have proven life-changing for me, it is important to note that not every meditative session is magical or profound. Actually, there are many times when I cannot quiet my mind, and all I can do is simply sit still and practice being in my body and controlling by breath. Nonetheless, all of the dud moments combined are worth the rarer, magical moments. As I have remained dedicated to a daily practice, the profound moments grow in frequency. Even better, all of the breath work has done wonders for my anxiety.

While these morning rituals are only a fraction of my mental health strategy, I do believe that , with time and dedication, better mornings lead to better days, and better days lead to a better quality of life. Will these practices make you impervious to the ebbs and flows of life? Absolutely not. But they have definitely made me better equipped.

Sending my love to any of you struggling with anxiety or depression. You are not alone.

Now get out there and design some good vibes (and a fabulous life).

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Saturday 19th of October 2019

Oh girl... Depression and anxiety suck! Thank you for sharing these wise words and actionable steps to help manage the struggle. Meditation, prayer, gratitude, and exercise are huge components of a healthy mind and body. The other thing that really helps me is spending time with close friends, even though sometimes I just want to be alone... I push myself to reach out and be vulnerable. I always feel uplifted after some girlfriend time. Anyway, thanks for sharing your journey... So proud of you for posting the hard stuff and be an inspiration to so many! Love ya!

Designing Vibes

Monday 21st of October 2019

Thank you so much for that advice, my beautiful friend. I admit that being a work from home mother has only exacerbated my introverted tendencies. I know this is something I have got to begin to shift- too bad you live so far away. I would love to decompress with you. Sending you my love. xoxo

Mary Kalpos

Friday 18th of October 2019

Depression can hit at any point in life Erica. It is also very common when you have little ones at home. I think half the battle is that we recognize it and take whatever action we can so that it does not rob us of the joy of life. I had recently gone through a bout last year but pulled myself out of it with a little help and now know that half the battle for me was also making sure my body was in good health. I am happy to hear that you have found a way to get though the difficulties with meditation. I like to listen to music and spend quality time with my family. Sending you lots of hugs dear friend!!

Designing Vibes

Saturday 19th of October 2019

Thank you for being so honest about your struggles, Mary. It makes others feel less alone (including myself). And is a huge component of this. In the future, I will be sharing some of the health conditions that have contributed to my own depression/anxiety. Sending you my love. xoxo


Friday 18th of October 2019

Thank you for sharing your struggles sweet Erica. I too have suffered for many years of anxiety and depression. It took many years to figure out what helps me. We as women sometimes place our needs on the backburner but we have to remember to not feel guilty for our selfcare.

Designing Vibes

Saturday 19th of October 2019

Yes, Carol! I completely agree. Those are such wise words, my friend. It sucks that you had to go thru years of confusion to finally figure out how to deal with it all, but I am so glad to hear you have a happy ending. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. It means so much to me. Wishing you a beautiful and joyous fall season.


Thursday 17th of October 2019

Your message really hit home for me. I am in a very different chapter of life....retirement.....and I have recently realized that depression has crept in and robbed me of my joy. You would think that if your time is your own to do as you please your life would be the best ever. Should be true, but you still have to work at finding purpose and have goals. I've been in limbo too long and it has depressed me. I will incorporate your morning agenda to help lift me out of the funk I've been in for the last year. Thank you for sharing. Know that the time and effort you put into your blog is making a difference for people of all ages in a variety of situations.

Designing Vibes

Thursday 17th of October 2019

I am so sorry to hear you are going thru this, Cheryl. I have seen many family members fall in a rut upon retirement as well. Nonetheless, I am so glad you are self-aware enough to take action and fight the good fight. It means the world to me that you took the time to reach out, share your story and consider my suggestions. You truly made my day. I pray to God that you can find happiness and purpose again, my friend.


Thursday 17th of October 2019

After the loss of my father 3 years ago, I went into a deep depression. This prayer by Marianne Williamson really helped me: "Dear God, I surrender to you the pain that is my heart. I give to you my failure, my shame, my loss, my devastation. I know that in you dear God, all darkness is turn to light. Pour forth your spirit upon my mind and help me to forgive my past. Make my life begin again. Restore my soul and bring me peace. Comfort me in this painful hour that I might see again my innocence and good. I have fallen dear God and I feel I cannot rise. Please lift me up and give me strength. Set my feet upon the path to peace and help me not to stray again. I pray for forgiveness. I am crushed by my failure. Please show me who I am to you, that self hate shall not defeat me. Help me remember and reclaim my good. Help me become who you would have me be, and live the life you would have me live that my tears shall be no more. Amen"

Designing Vibes

Thursday 17th of October 2019

That is such a beautiful prayer, Nadine. Marianne's work has given me so much peace over the past 2 years and i think that is so cool that her message resonates with you as well. I cannot imagine the darkness you must have dealt with during the loss of your father. I can see how that could easily put someone into depression. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to share this powerful prayer. xoxo

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